On my first bike rides around the island over 30 years ago, it hit me that every time the road turned, a completely new landscape revealed itself.
The cultivated fields with countless special crops were small and plentiful, with field boundaries and hedgerows visible everywhere. Ditches, water holes, village ponds, small enclosures with livestock and, of course, forests, marshes and the ever present coastline. All of this came together to create the experience of a “miniature Denmark”. However, there was nothing mini about Samsø’s exceptional nature areas Stavns Fjord and Nordby Bakker. Here nature exists on a grandscale. I would think that the same can be experienced today by those who visit Samsø for the first time… Samsø is often described as the island that is home to almost all Danish biotopes, and it is a known fact that the landscape on Samsø is unusually varied. There are many reasons for this.
The current appearance of the landscape is due to both natural forces and the effect of human beings for thousands of years. Glaciers from the Ice Age moved across the landscape many times tens of thousands of years ago. Rivers of melted ice water created ravines and hollows and left behind the fundamental elements of the landscape: hills, hollows and planes. Fertile clay soil in some areas – sand and gravel in others. The cultivation of the land by generations of people have left visible prints, whilst non-cultivated land was home to natural habitats like meadows, grasslands and marshes used for grazing horses, cattle and sheep. Hay was collected and provided vital food for the winter. Today, these natural habitats are no longer necessary for agriculture, but nevertheless remain, home to our wild flora and fauna, and therefore, form an important part of the history of the landscape and nature of Denmark.
Here are some suggestions for trips, if you want to experience the diversity of Samsø’s nature.
Brattingsborg Forest is an old deciduous forest that is interesting from several perspectives; those of nature, culture and history.
The plantation between the Kanhave Channel and Mårup was planted from 1866 onwards. Both Brattingsborg Forest and the plan¬tation are privately owned and you therefore are only permitted to travel on roads and paths.
Nordby Hede is a heath area that used to span the area between the Kanhave Channel and Mårup up until the 1860s. When the plantation was established, only a small part of the heath was preserved. In later years, grazing by livestock has been established on the heath and certain areas have been burnt off as a part of the restoration.
Pastures have emerged through long periods of grazing. The gra¬zing animals prevent the overgrowth of trees and bushes and pastures are often rich with flowers and insects. Areas of special interest include: Møgelskår, Ballebjerg, Langdalen and the entire northern tip of the island around Issehoved. But please go on adventures and see for yourself. The whole northwestern part of Samsø is one large coherent pasture with many marked walking routes.
Small biotopes like water holes and village ponds, hedgerows, and small stands are spread out over the island. They often contain interesting wildlife and appear as small oases in the cultivated landscape.
Salt marshes in particular exist along the coast of the fjord. The best spots to see these are near Lillehavet/Langøre or on a trip on the embankment along the fjord between Stavns and Maden around Hesselholm. Please note: certain salt marshes as well as Besser Rev (Besser Reef) are closed during the bird-breeding season (April 1 – July 15)
The coasts facing the ocean are free to use. Sand beaches are found near Sælvigbugten (Sælvig Bay), Ballen harbour and on the east coast between Lilleøre and Issehoved. The other coasts are more or less covered with rocks. Here you can look for stones from both Norway, Mid-Sweden and the entire Baltic region. Pretty coastal cliffs can be seen from west of Mårup harbour and along the coastal line all the way to Issehoved.
By Bjarne Manstrup, head of the Nature Department at Samsø Municipality.
Last updated: 26/08/2020 11:21